In May of this year Google released game-changing Penguin 2.0 into the wild. Its arrival was met with widespread panic as many believed that Google’s updated search algorithm would unfairly penalise and target less experienced website creators who relied on the ‘old’ rules of SEO for traffic and revenue. As a web developer and content creator, you need to be aware of some crucial new guidelines by which Google ranks its returned search results.
The New SEO: Integrity and Authenticity
Broadly, the new rules dictate that quality of content takes precedence over volume of machine optimised content and commentators have since noted that Google is attempting to replicate the way in which the real world marketplace calculates product reputability.
SEO now entails consciously engineering content authenticity and integrity. At the risk of using a buzzword-y cliché: PROFOUND content marketing is now indeed king.
You must first develop a comprehensive brand strategy and generate varied content that is intelligently integrated into how you present that brand to the world. This means directly targeting your audience as a person and drawing attention to the authorship of content just as you would in the ‘real’ world.
Finally, you need to stop unnatural keyword stuffing. Immediately. It will not booster your site in anyway and Google actively penalises those sites that try to ‘fool’ the spiders by glutting content with unnatural search terms.
Now that a few months have passed, we can take a more objective look at exactly how Penguin has affected search engine rankings and how to succeed by Google’s ‘new’ rules.
Why the Change?
For those that felt they had a good handle on keyword machine optimisation, you may now feel a little bit cheated as Google has clearly stated that the new focus of the Penguin algorithm has shifted toward PEOPLE and away from MACHINES.
Previously, Google would determine a site’s relevance to a given search term based on the frequency and content of another site to which it was linked. It was a pretty simple solution; the best way to optimise your SEO was to create content that blindly backlinked to your target site thus increasing the ‘relevance’ of your page to the Google spiders. Volume was key.
Predictably, this quickly resulted in the drastic degradation in the quality of Google’s search results through keyword stuffing and the over saturation of duplicated, irrelevant content. Therefore, a search algorithm was needed that could separate blind, robot targeting links from genuine, content relevant links as a means of accurately calculating the ‘usefulness’ of returned information to the user.
More Power to the People!
So how does Google calculate information as ‘useful’ and ‘relevant’? In short: Authenticity.
The Penguin algorithm rewards websites that proffer natural and intelligently backlinked content.
Similarly, the algorithm appears to actively penalise sites that clearly engage in nonsensical keyword stuffing and those that backlink to overtly irrelevant content. This means that you need to generate authentic and engaging content that directly targets your human audience rather than the Google search bots and link to appropriate and relevant content.
A great way of ‘engineering’ authenticity to your content is to make use of Google+ authorship tags. Google+ authorship tags allow you to backlink all your published web content to your own personal profile thereby developing an informed and authoritative online presence. This in turn gives more credibility to your product or brand.
Engage and Succeed
Rather than lamenting the potential loss of traffic that Penguin may have had on your site, use the ‘rules’ to your advantage and increase the quality of not only your site but also your brand as a whole. If Penguin places an emphasis on higher quality content, use this as an opportunity to drastically overhaul your web presence and engage in a more meaningful way with your target audience.
Most users’ internet access is motivated by the acquisition of information and social media, so integrate this into your new SEO strategy. Offer industry and brand specific tutorials to your users, offer personalised and efficient know-how and produce engaging content that will meaningfully contribute to the knowledge pool of interest areas affected by your brand or product.
Recognise the power of cross platform content. This means that you should start looking to a variety of media types to better engage with your users, thus fully optimising your SEO under the Penguin algorithm.
Web tutorials, seminars and video advertorials delivered via YouTube, Vimeo, Google+ (see above) etc. will greatly enrich the relationship you hold to your audience and is heavily rewarded under Google’s new rules; variety is another marker by which Google calculates the relevance of content. Remember, however, that cross-platform media still needs to be genuinely relevant to your brand so do not forget to always cross link your content as part of your intelligent link building strategy.
Keep It Tight, Keep It Local
Google knows that your small business doesn’t quite have the same pulling power as a Fortune 500 so don’t despair that your own SEO strategy couldn’t ever possibly compete with the big hitters. Penguin will reward those who target their consumers in a meaningful fashion in the same way that meaningful client relationships yields success in the real world. Again, generating useful, natural content is key but recognise the importance of developing a strong and engaged social media network around your brand.
Websites that have performed most successfully in the wake of Penguin 2.0 have demonstrated that a strong social media presence is interpreted by Google’s algorithm as a strong, human presence in content. This will also help you increase the strength of your link building strategy and consolidate your content.
So there is really little reason to lament the ‘easy’ SEO days of old. If you realign your SEO strategy to Google’s new rules, you will not only increase your site traffic but also the quality and reputability of your brand as a whole.
Author Bio: Patrick Ahler is founder of LinkFool, a link building service focusing on hand built links from relevant sites to help business owners, marketers, resellers, and webmasters to grow their organic traffic.
Image Credit: penguin.